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OpenStack Offers Career Opportunities

As enterprises and service providers adopt OpenStack's open source cloud OS, they are finding a lack of skilled talent who can develop, deploy and maintain OpenStack environments.

openstack Job Trends graph

Wanted: OpenStack developers. This talent is in high demand in the cloud industry at the moment.

OpenStack, which is an open source operating system for cloud offerings, was founded in July 2010 by NASA and Rackspace, a managed hosting and cloud provider, along with about 20 other companies. The original goal was expanding and continuing code developed by NASA and Rackspace. The OpenStack community now encompasses more than 110 organizations — including tech giants Cisco, HP and Dell — and has produced four software releases, with the latest (code named Diablo) released in September.

Enterprises and service providers are now using this open source code, and encountering a lack of skilled workers who can develop, deploy and maintain OpenStack environments.

Seeking More Developers

Josh Crowe, who leads Internap’s Product Engineering and recently released a public cloud offering based on OpenStack, is looking to expand his firm’s talent pool with more OpenStack developers.

Internap is an outsourced infrastructure provider originally for its specific expertise in IP performance optimization. More than 2,700 enterprises are Internap clients ranging from the Fortune 500 to cutting-edge startups and everything in between.

“My team develops software and systems that power our offerings,” Crowe said. “We develop infrastructure tools. The team, with contractors, is 70 (mostly full-time) staff, focused on developing intellectual property. We have contractors because there is a dearth of talent. There are plenty of open positions. “

More than Doubling The Size of the Team

Crowe is not just seeking cloud talent, but specifically needs OpenStack project developers. So Internap now has a dedicated recruiter to find OpenStack talent, as well as an internal training program. The company is also meeting with universities to develop partnerships at the college level. “It is not just senior people who have to transform their skill sets,” Crowe noted.

For the working technical professionals, the talent market is shifting. “There is a joint responsibility of companies in this space and responsibilities of engineers to transform to new technology. OpenStack is not a stretch at all,” Crowe said.

“I joined Internap in August, and since that time, we have doubled the number of engineers. We have grown the staff from 6-8 working in OpenStack Nova, Glance (OpenStack image storage) and Swift (OpenStack object storage) to 14 engineers in OpenStack.”

Center of Excellence in OpenStack

Another firm that is seeking OpenStack talent is Mirantis, a 10-year-old outsourced engineering services company based in California, with three locations in Russia. All told, Mirantis has 300 engineers. For the past 5 or 6 years, they have been strongly focused on open source infrastructure and middleware, deploying such technologies as Chef, Puppet and Hadoop, and among others.

Boris Renski, Executive VP and cofounder, said that after client feedback, the company realigned behind OpenStack about six months ago. OpenStack is now one of its major practice areas.

“We expect to grow from 25 engineers to 50 engineers working on OpenStack by Q2 of next year,” Renski said. He noted this is where the growth pattern of technical needs appears to be headed.

The issue is that “it is not an easy thing to do” to expand the OpenStack team because “there is no ready talent available.” So Mirantis has an internal training program, where individuals with networking experience and some computer programming languages can become introduced to OpenStack, which is written in Python.

Renski said his firm is looking aggressively for the type of people who can be trained. Within a few weeks, internally-trained folks are added to projects to shadow an engineer and get hands on experience on a project. (Clients are not charged for the trainees on the project.) “We favor people learning in action,” he said.

Additionally, Mirantis is giving workshops in OpenStack at CloudCamp, where an overview of OpenStack will be presented and where people can install a single node, review install logs, and get an understanding of the cloud OS. In early November, Mirantis will be giving a workshop at an upcoming CloudCamp in Sunnyvale, Calforina.

Like Internap, Mirantis is working with the educational system, by establishing relationships with universities in Russia to collaborate on a formal training program on OpenStack.

Renski noted there are other members of the team that may not need specific OpenStack training, such as those in the architect role. That person understands the technical requirements of a project and works closely with clients to get the clients’ needs met. This requires people skills and communications skills that one “cannot grow,” according to Renski.

Additionally, Rackspace is offering its expertise to help support and train talent. It announced "Rackspace Cloud Builders" this spring, which is a business that offers training and certification, deployment services, and ongoing support to enterprises and service providers through its team of OpenStack experts and its network of technology industry professionals.

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